Number Of Working Poor In America Hit Its Highest Level In Last Two Decades: Report

In this post-recession economy you may be able to get a job, but that doesn't necessarily protect you from falling into poverty.

In 2010, the number of working poor Americans climbed to its highest level in the last two decades, the Department of Labor reported last week. About 10.5 million Americans, or 7.2 percent of the labor force in 2010, weren't earning enough to stay out of poverty, according to a Department of Labor report released last week. That's the highest rate since the Labor Department started reporting the statistic in 1987 (h/t Think Progress).

To provide broader picture of 2010, during that year, 46.2 million Americans or 15.1 percent of the population were earning below the official poverty line -- an annual income of $10,830 for a single person and $22,050 for a family of four, according to the Census Bureau.

But the new report isn't the only indication that the number of Americans making a decent income has declined in recent years. The number of U.S. households classified as living in "extreme poverty" -- earning a cash income of less than $2 per person per day -- more than doubled from 1996 to 2011, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported.

In addition, nearly one in every two Americans or 146.4 million is now classified as either low-income or earning below the poverty line, an increase of 4 million from 2009, according to a December Census report.

What's more, the number of Americans one emergency away from a financial crisis also climbed to nearly 50 percent, a study from earlier this year found.

And while there may be indications that the job market is improving, the most recent employment gains are reportedly taking place in low-paying industries like retail and temporary work. In addition, median income has decreased more during the recovery than the recession.

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